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Viewpoint With Eliot Spitzer

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Us 8, Eliot 7, Washington 6, Ken Feinberg 5, America 4, Pentagon 4, Kurt Eichenwald 3, Jennifer Granholm 3, Lysol 3, U.s. 3, Vo 2, Ken 2, Boehner 2, Eliot Spitzer 2, Mr. Feinberg 2, Fbi 2, Granholm 2, Europe 2, Romney 2, Michigan 2,
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  Current    Viewpoint With Eliot Spitzer    News/Business.   
   (2012) New. (CC) (Stereo)  

    September 11, 2012
    5:00 - 6:00pm PDT  

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11,000%! best money that politicians can buy. right there. all right. we'll see you tomorrow. "viewpoint" with eliot spitzer is next. >> eliot: good evening i'm eliot spitzer. this is "viewpoint." 11 years ago today, american airlines flight 11 and united airlines flight 175 crashed into the world trade center towers in lower manhattan. a little later that morning american airlines flight 77 smashed into the pentagon and united airlines flight 93 nosed into a field near shanksville slain. nearly 3,000 people died, murdered by osama bin laden and his al-qaeda terror network and the world changed. once again today as we've seen from the past decade, memorial services were held for the victims and the selfless first responders who rushed to their
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aid, some to their deaths. in new york, in the shadow of the new uncompleted one world trade center, victim's families read the names of their loved ones. at the pentagon where a giant american building marked the building, president obama and first lady michelle obama laid a wreath. in shanksville pennsylvania, vice president joe biden laid a wreath and spoke to the memorial service. not long after the attacks, the administration of president george w. bush began insisting there was nothing it could have done to stop them. even after it was learned that bush received the presidential daily brief august 6th with the headline bin laden determined to strike in u.s. but now in an extraordinary new book 500 days of secrets and lies in the terror wars, in an op ed article in "the new york times" today the deafness before the storm author kurt eichenwald lays out the briefings that the bush administration seemingly ignored on the road to 9-11. on may 1 2001, a group presently in the united states was planning a terrorist operation. on june 22nd, al-qaeda strikes
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could be imminent. on june 29th, in response to neocon, it was meant to distract the white house from saddam hussein. bin laden associates expected "near term attacks to have dramatic consequences, including major casualties." on july 1st the operation had been delayed but will occur soon. on july 24th, the attack was still being readied but had been postponed. again on august 6th bin laden determined to strike in the u.s. for more on his remarkable reporting, i'm joined by kurt eichenwald contributing editor to "vanity fair" and author of "500 days, secrets and lies in the terror wars." kurt, thank you for this remarkable piece of journalism and your op-ed that has struck a nerve and reopened many questions. tough questions. i guess having looked at the op-ed, what is the single most important secret that is no longer secret and the most important lie that has been
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debunked? >> well, there are so many unfortunately. one of the -- i think one of the most important lies or important secrets, something that happened post-9-11 was this effort to essentially blame the c.i.a. blame the counter terrorists center. that is at the epicenter of all of the intelligence agencies' efforts against al-qaeda and the rest. and say well, they didn't give us enough information. they could have done this. they could have done that. these people have suffered in silence for 11 years because they had to. and the truth of the matter is they fed so much information to the white house, they were there day in and day out saying there's an attack coming. there's an attack coming. then having to fight off the pentagon, this insane theory that bin laden was acting as a front for saddam hussein.
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>> eliot: two of them did not get along ideologically totally different. >> it was a fundamentalist and secularist. they had nothing to do with each other. these people -- today i got -- i was contacted a couple of times by people in the intelligence community. one of them, his first words were bless you. the other one the man was in tears and said he can -- every 9-11 he has always felt like everybody was looking at him because he felt like he had been held responsible. and he wasn't. >> eliot: let me distill this down. the c.i.a. actually kind of got it right. the politicians in the white house misunderstood ignored or had a brem is and we'll get to this, a false prems so i they refused to understand. leading to the disaster. afterwards, the white house and the politicians succeeded in blaming bad intelligence even though it had been their error in the first place. >> yes. >> eliot: kind of remarkable chain of events. >> there is a little fact that i find remarkable is that the
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inspector general of the c.i.a. was in the counterterrorist center actually for about nine months and had a report that came out in august of 2001 saying these guys are incredible. they work incredibly hard. they don't have enough resources but it is pedal to the metal. they turn up all of this fabulous stuff. you know, can't say enough about how great they were. and then comes 9-11. and suddenly, the inspector general needs to come back and they come back and they have a new report. well actually they're lousy. that's the kind of thing you look at. people are trying so hard not to say we made a mistake. and it is a horrible mistake. 3,000 people died. put to hang those 3,000 people died on a group of people who dedicated their lives to keeping us all safe -- >> they were getting it right. >> they were getting it right. >> eliot: until today we all knew because of the 9-11 commission, we knew about the august 6th previousing for the
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white house. that was problematic. when you get us this leading up to it, i say to myself, my goodness, six precise statements to the president. did condy rice, did people in the inner circle say we have to see the underlying evidence because this is serious stuff. >> one of the things, when condy rice testified before the 9-11 commission, she talked about we had this meeting on july 5th and we took it all very seriously and we did all of these things. and you know, in the terms of bureaucratese, they did things. i go back to the guys that have the intelligence, in the counterterrorist center, there is a meeting and they say we should all put in for a transfer because something is coming and it is going to be bad and we're going to be held responsible. >> eliot: nobody in the white house was taking it seriously. >> no. >> eliot: this comes through in the.o ed and -- in the op-ed and the book, there was a neocon philosophy, only state actors
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mattered. nobody could get their arms around the fact that al-qaeda could have been a more serious threat than hussein and iraq. >> i find that sort of understandable. go you think about it, the republicans have been out of the white house since '92. back in '92, the national security threats were other countries. from '92 through 2000, you had members of what became the bush war council involved in national security issues all dealing with iraq. so they come into office in 2001 and they sit down with the clinton beam and the clinton beam said really what you need to worry about is al-qaeda. and what the bush people hear is the biggest threat to our national security is a bunch of guys sitting on a mountain top in afghanistan? >> eliot: it was a foreign language. >> it was a foreign language to them. the inther of 2001 was -- the summer of 2001 was chin tbha, it was russia, it was north korea.
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the standard national security stuff from ten years earlier. >> eliot: also the residual anger, tbrus -- tbrus ration that the job hadn't been completed. wolfowitz and the others were there at the pentagon saying we want to tbsh the job. >> right. this fantasy belief if you knock down iraq, that democracy was -- it was the reverse. >> eliot: i want to come back to the six briefings that make it to the president's desk. >> i cite six. >> eliot: there may be more. >> there are a total of 70 between the time he's inaugurated and -- >> eliot: which makes the point more remarkable. didn't somebody say listen, the bell is going off with such regularity, we have to get it all in one place how do we connect the dots. they didn't and had they done so, something might have ended up differently. >> one of the things to bear in mind here, there's only one
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other time in our history where there was intelligence coming in with the level of alarm in the summer of 2001 and that was in december of 1999. and that was we're about to be hit. it is going to be al-qaeda. they're doing something big and the government went on full-scale high alert. in fact, the c.i.a. and their counterterrorism effort, they had a budget that was on a fiscal year to end in september. they blew it through the entire budget by january 15th. it was don't worry spend do. they stopped attacks all over the world the one people know about here is the planned attack at l.a.x. that was what the people thought -- the intelligence guys thought was going to happen in summer of 2001. and it didn't. >> eliot: right. >> there was none of this high escalation and when you look at what was going on, i mean in august of 2001, the fbi knew
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that there were two al-qaeda guys in the united states, these two guys end up being two of the hijackers. and we have to find them and they assign one relatively new fbi agent to find him. >> eliot: this is where it is so easy and the other side will say it is easy to look back and cast blame. it is an effort to figure out how do you do better next time. had they looked at the 70, as you now say 70 ceo briefings listen, we have to get every shred of evidence connect the dots, something might have been different. >> it could have been. i'm never going to say if they had done this, they would have stopped 9-11. >> eliot: you don't want to say that because there's no utility to it. >> it is also unnotable. on some levels, transitions between about thesies are dangerous -- between about thesies are bangs. if people aren't willing to say
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maybe we've been out of the loop. maybe we need to pay a lot more attention. and there was just not that level of humility in the early days. and that was a serious problem. there was a great deal of disdain for the c.i.a. there was a great deal of disdain for the defense intelligence agency. and it just -- it was the wrong brooch -- approach. >> eliot: the bureaucrats. we so often malign, they were doing their job. it was the boltitions and the white house who got it fundamentally wrong. >> one of the people involved said our mistake wasn't that we didn't have the intelligence. our mistake was what they would blame us for is we didn't convince them. that sums it all up. >> eliot: kurt eichenwald, contributing editor of "vanity fair" and author of "500 days, secret and lies in the terror
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wars." many thanks. >> eliot: tomorrow we'll be broadcasting from washington, d.c. where i'll be talking to legislators on the hill. coming up next the 9-11 victim again sation fund and the man who buildings it. we'll talk to ken feinberg. stick around. i'm jennifer granholm, let me tell you a story. in colorado the auto rescue saved more than 9,000 jobs. in the great state of michigan, 211,000 good paying, american jobs! in romney's world, cars get the elevator, and the workers get the shaft! (vo) want more granholm? get her every night.
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>> eliot: congressman paul ryan wants to cut taxes for the wealthiest but does not want to cover cancer treatment for 9-11
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responders. that brings us to our number of the day, 2. that's how many times the vice presidential candidate voted against a bill to provide medical care for those injured by toxins at ground zero. this means the heroes who ran into the rubble to rescue and retrieve they, along with residents ended up breathing in particles of glass asbestos, cement and other poisons. the 9-11 health and compensation act was designed to get them medical help, initially it failed in the house because it required a 2/3 supermajority but the second time it only needed a simple majority and it passed. ryan fought it both times. he complained it would "create a new healthcare entitlement and might extend eligibility for compensation." for most of us, that's not a problem. we recognize an obligation to those who demonstrated remarkable heroism on 9-11 and might have contracted cancer in the process. but ryan objected twice. ryan still won't list a single tax loophole he is willing to
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close but he is more than happy to vote against healthcare for heroes of 9-11. >> eliot: few people in our legal system have been able to do the impossible as frequently as ken feinberg. put a value on lives lost in a tragedy from the 9-11 victims fund to bp oil spill relief to the agent orange settlement. ken feinberg has been the madd man in the middle of all of it. he's out with a new book, who gets what, fair compensation after tragedy and financial upheaval. ken, i want to express my admiration for your willingness to throw yourself into the
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middle of these contentious disputes. explain what you have done. what is the common theme in each one of these contexts? >> every once in awhile, policymakers whether it is congress, a judge the white house, a decision is made for this particular tragedy no other. let's set up an alternative to go into court. instead of everybody going to court with their claim whoever they maybe want to sue let's set up a voluntary alternative where you can go into a special program if you're eligible, be paid compensation without going to the regular legal system. >> eliot: the benefit to the victims, of course is you're spared the agony, the time and duress of a litigation and you get an individual such as you and you've been, as i said, the man in the middle every one of these very difficult situations to determine then how much people get. >> and speed. you will file your claim and within a matter of weeks or months but not years eliot not
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years, will you have a check in the mail. >> eliot: so in bp context the individuals whose jobs and livelihood had been destroyed because of the environmental disaster, fewer lives lost there although some, but businesses that had been suffering enormously could get money back from the fund much more ed pedestrianitiously than they would have in the context of a court litigation. >> that's correct. bp fronted, at the request of president obama $20 billion. let's not worry about whether we have codefendants, others are responsible. we'll front $20 billion for fishermen, shrimpers crabbers, hotel owners, those victimized by the spill. and we'll get our money in, out. >> eliot: of course, the most notable of these contexts was the 9-11 disaster where you were brought in to oversee the funds distributed to the families of the victims. >> 11 days after 9-11, congress passed a law and the law said anybody who would rather come into a publicly-funded
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compensation program waive your right to sue world trade center, the airlines, mass port, the port authority boeing, waive your right to sue come into this no fault fund, if you lost a loved one on 9-11, the taxpayer will fund a settlement and give you the check. >> eliot: okay. so you were asked to do this because you have the respect of both sides of the political aisle. how do you then do it? how do you value a life? this is an issue nobody's comfortable with. what are the parameters and the factors? >> you know, better than most, that every day in every court in our country city, village hamlet local county court juries do it every day. what would the person who died, what would that person have earned over a lifetime. what was the pain and suffering and the emotional distress accompanying the death? equals dollars. what i do basically is -- i am
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not a rabbi or a priest. i basically am judge and jury and i basically did in 9-11 and in bp and the -- exactly what judges and juries do every day. >> eliot: you and i as lawyers, are more familiar with this probably than most folks but when people initially hear wait a minute, you're telling me an executive of a company because he would earn more, therefore gets more back, does that mean he's worth more in a moral sense? >> no! >> eliot: that's a distinction. >> a critical distinction! that's a problem i run into every time i do one of these programs. mr. feinberg my husband died on 9-11. he was a fireman. a hero. he died at the world trade center. why am i getting $2 million less than the banker in the world trade center who worked for enron? you explain to me, mr. feinberg how is that fair? >> eliot: what's your answer?
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>> my answer is mrs. jones, i am not placing a moral value on your husband's life or on the banker's life. i am simply doing what judges and juries do every day in our capitalist system by calculating what a person would have earned over a work life. >> eliot: were in you the 9-11 context able to somehow bridge some of those chasms by compressing the earn figures down to something that was more palatable? >> some of these people would have received $35 $40 $50 million. >> bankers at 35 years of age. >> eliot: right. >> i remember senator kennedy saying to me, ken, you have an impossible assignment. make sure that 15% of the victims' families don't receive 85% of the taxpayer's money. there will be a riot.
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>> eliot: you had the same equity issues that we're frankly debating in our political context about distribution of income. we only have a bit of time left. you also have played a critical role. you were asked by the treasury department to play a role in forcing companies to limit executive pay. >> that's right. >> eliot: explain what you did there. >> congress passed another law. populous revenge. you know all about this. congress said if we're bailing out wall street with top money there ought to be a price to pay. for the top 25 corporate officials in the seven companies that receive the most money bank of america, citigroup aig the treasury department delegating will decide what the corporate officials will make for a living. >> eliot: so you're telling me you've given away the billions of dollars. how did you get this power? >> i think frankly, do you it once, you do it twice it is successful. policymakers come back to you. you know there's nothing -- this
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isn't rocket science. i think millions of americans could do what i do. >> eliot: what is -- you're very self-ef acing. you've managed to do it and maintain the support of the parties because as we've examined, you're dealing with incredibly complicated moral and ethical issues. some people get very upset. >> it goes with the territory. you know people in grief. people who have lost tragedy through no fault of their own. it is absolutely expected. and empathy really helps in this job. it really helps. >> eliot: do you believe -- you are viewed and judge -- two of you are viewed as being the fathers of this notion of mass tort resolution. you believe it is something we should use more broadly. >> the legal system works pretty well but when you've got thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of claims, all clamoring for relief, if you don't come up with a system that
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will abbreviate the length of waiting for money if you don't develop a speedy, more efficient system, i think the courts are largely ill-equipped to deal with, as you say mass litigation. >> eliot: all right. ken feinberg, you have done it. i think it is putting on -- my role both as a tv host and someone who was involved in this done masterful work in bringing justice to families at a moment of grief where they needed both the funds and closure because having these litigations continue forever would have been damaging emotionally as well as financially to them. >> to hear that from somebody like spitzer means a great deal. >> eliot: ken feinberg, author of who gets what, thank you for coming in. more "viewpoint" coming up.
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>> eliot: as we mark the 11th anniversary of 9-11, a vast array of emotions are evoked from anger and fury to quiet remembrance and finally
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optimum. let me explain the last one. from my office a short block or so away from the world trade center, i saw the second plane hit the south tower i was like so many new yorkers on the street when the second tower went down. we all felt the numbing realization of a world changed. but 11 years later, i feel that we have won the larger battle. not just by essentially dismantling al-qaeda but from the broader display of strength by our democratic system. slightly over 230 years ago when this nation was founded, the very notion of a nation premised on principles of intolerance was viewed by the world in an experiment that was doomed to fail. dictatorships ruled theocracies had before that. of the notion of a democratic governing structure was viewed as simple-minded and impermanent. yet over the section eeding years, dictatorships have faded and withered. and the ideologies that have arisen since our formation of a
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more perfect union from communism and socialism to fascism have been discredited. the most important battle has been won. people across the world now yearn for the freedom and democratic rights that we first established. yes, they're always continuing assaults and challenges, primarily from the fundamentalism that continues to fuel fanaticism and terrorism but it is impossible to look at a map of the world and not believe that the arc of history does, in fact, tilt in the direction of progress. that means freedom as we have defined it. as we mark a day of mourning and somber reflection, let us also not fail to recognize in the midst of the cowardly assault on freedom, the terrorists launched 11 years ago and the continuing battles around the globe to push back against those efforts the cause of freedom and unabridged rights is winning and will continue to do so. that's my view.
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i'm jennifer granholm, let me tell you a story. in colorado the auto rescue saved more than 9,000 jobs. in the great state of michigan, 211,000 good paying, american jobs! in romney's world, cars get the elevator, and the workers get the shaft! (vo) want more granholm? get her every night.
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polar shifts will reverse the earth's gravitational pull and hurtle us all into space. which would render retirement planning unnecessary. but say the sun rises on december 22nd and you still need to retire. td ameritrade's investment consultants can help you build a plan that fits your life. we'll even throw in up to $600 when you open a new account or roll over an old 401(k). so who's in control now, mayans? >> eliot:ed a we rapidly approach the cliff washington dysfunction continues as normal and the lack of action may push us over the edge. the only negotiations currently taking place are by the senate's so-called gang of eight. even if they were to reach a deal, nobody thinks it would matter much. this morning, surprisingly placing the blame on president obama, speaker boehner was pessimistic about the possibility that the cliff could be avoided.
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>> i'm not confident at all. listen, the house has done its job. on both the sequester and on the looming tax hikes that will cost our economy some 700,000 jobs. the senate at some point has to act. on both of these where's the president? where's the leadership? absent without leave. >> eliot: also seemingly absent, any sense of bipartisanship in washington. the only point of agreement heading over the cliff would be a disaster, despite fed chairman bernanke's action inaction could knock us into ary session and we could be facing another rating downgrade. all of the washington players appear more intent on using the crisis to earn political points. joining me is ben white, economy reporter for politico and imogen webber, co-author of the twitter diaries. ben, what are the constituent parts of this fiscal cliff?
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>> you've got three pieces of it. you've got the bush tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003 which are rates on all earners. you've got the president's stimulus tax cuts, the payroll tax cut on earnings that employees have and then you've got the sequestration budget cuts as part of the budget control act of 2011. altogether, you're talking about between $700 billion of spending cuts which if allowed to go into effect at one time, we would be talking about 5% of gdp which would send us into probably a recession in 2013. we would get a lot of deficit reduction. some people say let's do it and cut the deficit this way. you pay a price in a huge hit to the economy. >> eliot: just so i understand the raw economics. we're in a period of incredibly slow growth as we are you want government spending to go up and taxes to go down and what's going to happen here is taxes will up and government spending will go down. >> this is the exact opposite of the tan zanian response.
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you don't want the hit to people's wallets and you don't want government spending to go down. >> eliot: we know washington always does what makes no sense whatsoever, we're going to do exactly that. >> my guess is they won't allow us to go over the fiscal cliff. december, we'll get a punt to the next congress. they'll extend the tax cuts. we won't get a lot of deductions. imogen, explain why now and november, nothing is going to happen. we've got eight weeks left until election day. >> the whole world is waiting for the u.s. presidential election. it always does. everything is always on hold. unless there is a major crisis like you had in 2008. the good news is it is not as big a crisis as 2008, it is still a crisis. i hail from a country that is -- >> eliot: i couldn't tell from your accent. australia? >> we're now in a double dip recession. so it is a really, really bad idea to -- i agree with you i don't think it is going to
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happen. >> eliot: it isn't going to happen in the next two weeks. what you're referring to is austerity. europe, we've been saying this on the show, we've been conducting the biggest macroeconomic experiment in history with european austerity government contracting spending forcing most of europe into a double dip recession. >> precisely that. it hasn't worked. at the end of the day america has the advantage. the world's reserve currency. you can afford that deficit for a little bit longer. absolutely, you have to deal with that deficit. >> eliot: let me reduce this to plain english not because you're british. for folks who don't know what reserve currencies are. we can borrow cheap. >> yep. >> interest rates now at rock bottom. treasuries are still low despite the fact we have a national debt that's at $16 trillion, 100% of gdp which puts knew the zone of concern. people start to worry about your debt when it is at 100% of gdp. right now we can't afford to run
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deficits and debt. it is not this shotgun at our heads in terms of cutting deficits. >> eliot: as paul krugman has been writing the deficit hawks say when the deficit goes up, inflation will go through the roof, the sky will fall, none of that has happened. imogen, we can borrow. we can, in fact, perhaps afford to borrow more and go farther with deficit spending. >> absolutely. in the mean term, you have to do deficit reduction. fundamentally, the businesses, they want to be able to plan and know that politicians are getting a plan into place for the medium term but right now yes, you need that. >> eliot: to come back to the raw politics of this for the moment, why it is it impossible to negotiate? nobody knows what hand they'll be dealt for december and january until after november's election. so everybody is sitting look at each other saying let the voters vote then we'll know. >> which is the biggest problem. somehow we'll get a clarifying election which is going to make it clear to washington whether we want to go with a lot of big tax cuts or spending cuts.
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i think we'll get a status quo election and in the same position we are in december. >> eliot: explain what you mean by that. that's hugely important. >> as it looks now, it seems more likely than not that president obama gets re-elected. not a guarantee. he's leading. republicans will continue to control the house of representatives. maybe control the senate. will you have divided government. you won't have a mandate for one view. there's two very different views here. one is we deal with entitlements by cutting spinding dramatically and keeping taxes low. another perspective says we trim entitlement spending and increase the tax burden on the wealthy. the politicians are waiting for the people to say we'll go one way or the other. we're not going to get that. >> eliot: imogen, fast forward to january. the president is re-elected. the house is republican. is there the possibility of this sort of grand bargain that alluded the president and speaker last year? >> you have to hope so.ú for the no tax increases are
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going to have to get republicans and democrats working together and compromising. >> eliot: norquist, you referred to grover norquist leading the anti-tax crusade for the republican party. the likelihood is that the senate, whether it is republican-controlled or not will have a greater tea party presence and speaker boehner will still be beholding to the tea port to maintain his position so the odds of seeing that overlapping is pretty slim. >> i think what we have to hope for is either the economy picks up significantly as it probably will eventually. perhaps in 2014. that tends to take care of a lot of deficit problems when revenues start going up, it starts to look a lot less painful. we'll have a market crisis where the state of the markets decide we borrowed too much. we're spending too much. interest rates go up. we have a deal -- >> eliot: very quickly. let's go across the pond to britain. your home country. what is happening as you enter a double dip recession what is the political environment there? >> the big problem of course is the euro zone. then the world will turn to
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america and that's when you need deficit reduction. you have this opportunity at the moment to still do a stimulus because everybody is focused on the euro zone. >> we're the best house in the bad neighborhood. >> eliot: not a pretty picture. not a good prognosis. i'm getting very disappointed. politico's ben white imogen lloyd webber, thank you both for your insight even if it was gloomy. deconstructing mitt romney. the viewfinder coming up next. health matters to all of us. that's why lysol has started a mission for health. with new mom programs, lysol healthy habits initiatives in schools and disaster relief efforts.
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>> eliot: an anti-establishment the senior campaign advisor to todd akin joining us. first, let's check in with jennifer granholm. good evening governor. what have you got for us tonight? >> eliot, it is time to unleash the crackin' in the form of bubba, aka bill clinton of course. the former president on the trail in florida and he is going to be coming at least out swinging in the mother of all swing states which of course is florida. we'll talk about that with former san francisco mayor willie brown. great pundit that he is and
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poverty as a separate topic has reached untenable levels in this country. great crusader is starting a tour with dr. cornell west. and the stories on the latest in the chicago teacher's strike. we'll do all of that and of course we always -- i'm holding up my props here. this is the great ohio art etch-a-sketch but with our mitt romney knobs. this is the war room. this is a political junky show. we've got the best in political chorbkies. >> you have your own etch-a-sketch. >> where is etch-a-sketch made? >> this ohio art etch-a-sketch people is made in china! >> eliot: man even mitt romney's favorite toy has been outsourced. >> jennifer: exactly. >> eliot: all right. more of "viewpoint" coming up next. >>if mitt romney treats his magic underwear the same way as his tax returns, then he's been going commando for the past 10 years.
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